2024 Legislative End of Session Update 


Climate Superfund Act (S.259) 

Following a hugely successful summer of canvassing in support of making the world’s largest fossil fuel companies pay their fair share to Vermont for the cost of the climate crisis to our state – and a fall of building support for the idea with events in every county in Vermont – the legislature voted overwhelmingly to send S.259, the Climate Superfund Act, to Governor Scott’s desk.  

The bill would create a Climate Superfund that the largest polluters – like ExxonMobil and Shell – would pay into based on their contributions to climate change-related damage in Vermont. With climate change already hitting Vermont hard and costing us billions, it’s clear Vermonters shouldn’t have to shoulder those costs alone. Using a strict liability standard, S.259 would hold the largest climate polluters (fossil fuel companies responsible for more than a billion metric tons of climate pollution linked to extraction or refining over the past thirty years) financially accountable for the climate-related damage they caused in Vermont.  

The bill is based on the “polluter pays” principle, which is well-established in state and federal law, and has been repeatedly upheld in our nation’s courts. If implemented, the Vermont Climate Superfund Act would bring in funds Vermont could spend on a host of critical activities to build resilience to, adapt to, and respond to the impacts of the climate crisis. 

Renewable Energy Standard (H.289) 

H.289—also passed by the legislature and on its way to Gov. Scott—would update Vermont’s renewable energy standard to nearly quadruple the amount of new renewables Vermont utilities are required to help get built and get Vermont to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 (with utilities serving most Vermonters hitting that mark by 2030). H.289 is the culmination of years of work by VPIRG, our members, and our allies to dramatically increase the amount of new renewables Vermont policy requires. In terms of cutting carbon pollution, this bill will be the equivalent of taking at least 160,000 cars off the road, for good. (Read more about everything the modernized renewable energy standard would do here.

Gasoline Superusers (S.305) 

Last year, with VPIRG’s support, the legislature passed S.137, which enabled Burlington Electric to implement a first-in-the-nation EV incentive for especially high mileage drivers (“gasoline superusers”). Helping Vermonters who use the most gasoline get into EVs would have an enormous impact on Vermont’s ability to hit the state’s climate pollution requirements and reduce the expense of gasoline on low-income Vermonters (you can read more about research on gasoline superusers here and a Vermont-specific fact sheet here). We need to bring this kind of incentive statewide, but instead the Scott administration pushed regulators to shrink the pilot program it was a part of, risking its viability. So, this year we pressed for a provision in S.305 (also passed in the closing hours of the session) that ensures that Burlington’s superuser incentive and the other Burlington and Efficiency Vermont initiatives that were authorized in last year’s bill, continue as the legislature intended.  

Protecting Communities from Climate-Induced Flooding (S.213) 

VPIRG supported the leadership of groups like Vermont Natural Resources Council, Vermont Conservation Voters, and others in passing S.213, legislation to help Vermont become more resilient against climate change and future flooding. The bill would take important steps toward safeguarding our communities from climate-induced flooding by protecting wetlands, moving future development away from high-hazard river corridors, and improving dam safety. The bill was passed by both chambers and is awaiting action from the governor. 


Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) 

We found lots of support for expanding the use of ranked choice voting in Vermont this past biennium, but enacting legislation for statewide use will need to wait until the 2025 legislative session. The Senate did give its strong approval to S.32, legislation that would have implemented RCV for the 2028 presidential primary. The Senate passed the bill on a 23-7 vote with tri-partisan support.  The House of Representatives, however, decided to wait until 2025 to take up the legislation. Therefore, we’ll be back next year and we anticipate working closely with the Secretary of State and key legislative leaders to make it happen.  


Pollinator Protection (H.706) 

In a huge win for both pollinators and public health, legislators in the House and Senate gave overwhelming approval to a bill (H.706) that will ban the use of toxic neonic pesticides on field crop seeds like corn and soy beginning in 2029. It will also restrict outdoor uses of neonics that are harmful to bees and other pollinators. Exemptions will be available in certain cases. VPIRG helped to lead a large coalition of beekeepers, farming advocates, medical experts, businesses, and environmental groups to pass the bill. It’s critically important because the neurotoxic pesticides, which provide little if any benefit to farmers to begin with, are devastating bees and other pollinators while threatening other species as well. It’s not yet clear whether Gov. Scott will sign or veto the bill, but we are working with legislative champs to prepare for an override. 

Modernizing the Bottle Bill (H.158) 

H.158, legislation to modernize Vermont’s popular Bottle bill program, failed to win a veto-override vote in the Senate earlier this year and died.  

VPIRG has been leading the charge to modernize Vermont’s popular Bottle Bill program for decades. And we’ve never come closer to making important updates to the law that would expand recycling and make redemption more convenient than we did this year. H.158 would have expanded the scope of the program to include beverages like water, wine, and sports drinks, opened up more redemption centers, and reduced the burden on small retailers. The legislation passed the House and Senate in 2023, but Gov. Scott vetoed the bill. Legislators in the House overrode the veto easily in 2024, but the override vote fell just short in the Senate. Given the ongoing need to modernize the program and the huge support for the legislation among Vermonters, we will be back in 2025. 

Protecting Vermonters from Toxic Chemicals in Products (S.25) 

VPIRG-backed legislation (S.25) that will ban PFAS and other harmful chemicals from personal care products like shampoo, deodorant, makeup, and menstrual products passed on May 7th and is heading to the governor’s desk for consideration. The legislation will also phase out the use of PFAS in textiles including outdoor apparel, and in artificial turf, cookware, kids’ products, and incontinence products. The bill passed both chambers unanimously. If enacted, this will be one of the more comprehensive laws in the country to protect consumers from PFAS and other toxins in commonly used products. 


Consumer Data Privacy (H.121) 

In the waning hours of the session, the legislature passed H.121, one of the strongest comprehensive consumer data privacy laws in the country. The bill now heads to the governor. If enacted, the Vermont Data Privacy Act would, among other things, require businesses to limit the information they collect on consumers to only that which is necessary to deliver the good or service a consumer has requested.   

It would give consumers the ability to opt-out of having their data sold, used for targeted advertising, or profiling. It would prohibit businesses from processing Vermonters’ sensitive data without consumer consent. And the bill would prohibit the sale of such data outright. 

The bill notably includes a limited private right of action that will allow consumers to hold large data collectors and data brokers that violate their privacy rights accountable in court. 

Fair Repair for Agricultural & Forestry Equipment (H.81) 

In the final days of the legislative session, the Senate passed H.81 – a bill to establish a right to repair for agricultural and forestry equipment. Unfortunately, the version the Senate passed was significantly weakened, including an exemption for any equipment manufacturer with an unenforceable private repair memorandum of understanding. This exemption would mean most large equipment manufacturers would be able to evade the law. The House, which passed a much stronger version of the bill last year on a 137-2 vote, did not have enough time to consider the Senate’s changes and would not agree to the weakened version, so the bill is likely dead for this session.  With momentum for fair repair growing nationally, we expect legislators to return to work on right-to-repair legislation in the new biennium. 

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